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“Without showing your chin, this should just be part of the process” – Sports –

“Without showing your chin, this should just be part of the process” – Sports –

Finland’s men’s national handball team was not originally participating in the World Cup qualifiers that start tomorrow. Now everything points to two wins in a row instead.

Two training sessions, video review, early flight to the UK with stops, light training session to “finish the ride”, World Cup qualifier #1, return flight to Finland with stops, another light training session and then finally World Cup qualifier #2

All within five days.

– Some days will be difficult, says national team captain Ola Lindgren when El Sporten reaches him before departing for the British Isles and laughs a little.

But the task will be a little easier because it partly relates to such important matches as the World Cup qualifiers, and it is even easier because the opponent is also easy, at least on paper.

“If we stay focused, we will be favorites.”

Finland begins the qualifiers with a double-header with Great Britain, and Lindgren has been clear from the draw on how the Blue and White team enters as big favorites.

– But in sports you always have to be ready to do the job, complete the match in a good way and get a good result. We cannot underestimate the opponent. There is quality in their team too. But if we stay focused, we will be favorites, he says now.

Ola Lindgren is confident of success against Great Britain.

Photo: Kalle Parkkinen/Newspix24/Handball Federation

However, Lindgren still agrees to admit that a loss in the dual meet isn’t even on the map.

– I think, without jutting my chin, that this is part of our process. Our goal is to meet the top ranked teams. To do that we must overcome Great Britain. It’s the only way to move forward, he answered when asked what it means for the team to move forward.

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In addition, Lindgren stresses that qualifying weeks like these are only good considering how the Finnish team has developed. Or as the coach put it: “to toughen up a little.”

-We are going to travel, you have to deal with it with all that it entails and still fix the outcome. The Big Picture requires players to deal with many situations and is part of their training. “This is the first time we’ve met since April,” Lindgren says.

The situation for the younger players in the starting lineup?

It is a step in this process – which in turn began in earnest when Finland and Great Britain last met. It was 2021, and Lindgren first seriously began bringing young talent into the team.

Since then, they have truly made huge strides forward. In the last European Championship qualifiers, Finland participated seriously and were only one win away from qualifying. It almost came in the form of a strong blow against Serbia on its soil.

– In addition, we won against Slovakia and I think this indicates that we have improved, Lindgren says.

Our goal has always been to take it one step at a time and create a game model where players feel safe. In addition to the big big picture, we’re also working on details, like our transition game and getting better at avoiding misses when the tempo is on.

Finland players celebrate after the win.
Victory chants over Slovakia in European qualifiers.

Photo: Kalle Parkkinen/Newspix24/Handball Federation

Facing Great Britain, at least on paper, there is every opportunity to refine many different concepts. To succeed in the internal goal: ten counter-goals. Lindgren isn’t shy about it either.

But at the same time, he refuses to say whether the plan is to a) let the framework work for interactivity or b) let new players gain experience.

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– I think the first goal is to win matches and then you have to make decisions according to how the match will turn out. “We have a briefing session in the afternoon where we strategize and pick the key players, but at the same time we don’t want to close ourselves off,” says Lindgren.

So, if you win clearly away from home, can you rotate more actively in the return leg?

– Good. I think we have 16 players, and even Max and Robin Granlund need international experience. But we have to wait and see how the match develops.

“Unexpected situations may arise.”

There is absolutely no answer as to how a match will go in handball. But the matter has become more ambiguous, as the opposition played the national team’s last matches in front of video cameras in January.

– In general, it’s the same team they had last time, but it’s hard to say how they’ve improved. It might be a bit difficult to face a team that doesn’t belong to the same handball tradition. Unexpected situations can arise in a match that does not depend on them, as Lindgren analyzed.

– It’s important to stay awake, find spaces, sometimes they go out hunting a lot and we have to take advantage of that. We must control the match and set the pace without stagnation. Working our way methodically means we will win.

The team against Great Britain

If the national team emerges victorious from the double meet, the next stage in the World Cup qualifiers awaits us, where Finland will have to meet a better-ranked team in a double meet. After that, another stage awaits us. Does this mean that veteran national team players like Nico Röneberg could become relevant again?

– You’ll have to ask Nico that. I interviewed him and said that the day he was interested, we would have a conversation based on that, but he himself made the decision not to participate. If he changes his mind, he can come in and compete for a spot like everyone else, Lindgren says.

“good mixture”

One of the most experienced players to return to the national team again is captain Richard Sandberg.

– We hope that he will give us another dimension on the defensive side. Overall, I think we have a good mix of young people and seniors. Lindberg believes we have succeeded in building a framework that has also made it safe for us to integrate young players.

Sandberg was one of those who protested loudly when the Handball Federation announced without warning that the men’s national team would not participate in the World Cup qualifiers due to high costs.

Richard Sandberg in the national team.

After that, the union collapsed very quickly.

Ola Lindgren – Is there a desire for revenge in the team to show Al-Ittihad that you belong in the World Cup qualifiers?

– First: We cannot influence financial decisions. We also have to deal with reality. But it is an important decision with great signal value. So I think the kids think it’s fun. They certainly appreciate seeing that the association believes in them.

– Of course, it’s still a long way to get to the toilet, but we’ll see how far it goes.

Finland faces Great Britain away on Thursday and at home in Karris on Saturday.